Despite often being treated as the “red-headed stepchild” when it comes to professional sports, the NHL has fans from all walks of life. This includes actors and actresses who may make their living in Hollywood or New York, but represent teams from all across the US and Canada. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about those celebrities that wear the jerseys of the respective hometeam simply to pander to whatever crowd they’re in front of, but rather the diehard hockey fans that haven’t let their celebrity status affect their love of the game.
The comedic actor is known for his roles in Arrested Development and 30 Rock, but many might not know that he is one of the biggest fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs to ever grace television. Back in 2007, Arnett wrote a guest commentary article for The Hockey News discussing the Leafs’ 40th straight season without a Stanley Cup.
“The Leafs won’t win the Stanley Cup for the 40th straight season. That sucks. But it doesn’t mean my optimism that the Cup will return to its rightful home has stopped,” wrote Arnett. “Hell, no. I’m more of a fan of the Leafs now than ever. I am an uber-fan. My home page on my computer is MapleLeafs.com. And since I’ve been living outside of Canada, I’ve probably missed only 15-20 Leafs games in the last five years.”
More recently, Arnett used his acting skills to impersonate Brendan Shanahan as the head of the Department of Player Safety.
If Arnett is the biggest Maple Leaf fan to grace Hollywood, Baruchel is the biggest Montreal Canadiens fan. The actor/writer/director held season tickets to the Habs for a few years, was named an honorary Montreal captain, and is a self-proclaimed “diehard Gainey-ite.”
Baruchel also helped write the film Goon and has been named as the director for the movie’s sequel.
Milano is a prime example of embracing the home team. The actress has made multiple appearances at Kings games, but more than that, she’s designed her own line of NHL-sponsored apparel and has actually erected a miniature shrine to the Los Angeles Kings in her home. Any celebrity that respects the hockey gods as Milano has gets a pass in my book.
The comedian turned political pundit turned late-night talk show host is not as open about his hockey fandom as the others on this list, but he brings just as much passion. During his time as host of The Colbert Report, he became invested in the major junior organization the Saginaw Spirit. When the organization announced plans to rename their eagle mascot, Colbert used the influence of his show to beg for the mascots’ new name: Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle. The Spirit obliged.
In terms of NHL teams, Colbert is much more guarded, but after the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006, the South Carolina-native couldn’t help but give a shout out to his hometown team.
Anyone who has seen Leary, heard an interview with him, or even have passing knowledge of the actor knows that he loves the city of Boston. Unsurprisingly, this love also extends to their sports teams, but most particularly, the Boston Bruins.
“I’ve never taken people — even my Irish cousins and people from England who have no concept of ice hockey — to a live hockey game and not had them walk away going, ‘Oh my God. Incredible.’ They get sucked in immediately,” said Leary in an interview with ESPN.
These are not the only celebrity hockey fans out there. Mike Myers is a big Toronto fan, Cuba Gooding Jr. makes frequent appearances with the Kings, and Kid Rock not only follows the Detroit Red Wings, but also loved the “Redneck Hockey” mantra that the Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes have used in the past.
Celebrity status may provide an air of wonder around a person, a sense of amazement, or the feeling of being starstruck. But behind the curtain of Hollywood, behind the veil of being actors, actresses, directors or singers, these celebrities are hockey fans, just like you or I, with the same quirks, superstitions and overwhelming love for their respective teams.
Jonathan Gardner currently lives in Raleigh, NC and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.